Overactive Letdown: Signs & Solutions for Baby & Mama

I’ll never forget nursing Paloma in those first few weeks of life. As an “experienced” nurser, I thought it was going to be smooth and easy. Instead, I found her choking, coughing and pulling off the breast more times than I could count. I was sore. She was hungry. And we were both unhappy.

After meeting with a Lactation Consultant, I learned that I had a condition called overactive letdown. As the name suggests, overactive letdown is when your breast milk comes out too fast and hard at letdown.

Signs of overactive letdown

With a newborn baby, who is still getting the hang of sucking, swallowing and assimilating his food, an overactive letdown can be frustrating to say the least.

Some signs to look out for:

  • Baby choking during feeding
  • Baby coughing during or after feeding
  • Pulling back at breast or tugging at the breast or nipple
  • Squealing, squeaking, or gulping excessively while nursing
  • Make clicking sound at breast (this can also be a sign of tongue or lip tie)
  • Milk dribbling down side of baby’s mouth
  • Crying or resisting the breast
  • Excessive gas, hiccuping or spitting up

Sometimes an overactive letdown can come hand-in-hand with having an oversupply of milk. Many moms have this in the first 4-6 weeks postpartum as this is by design to ensure there is enough food for baby. Usually, your baby will help to regulate your supply and the issue resolves itself. However, many moms with overactive letdown can have gassy or even colicky babies, which is upsetting for all. That’s because baby is consuming too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. Foremilk is the thin, watery, and lactose-rich component of breast milk that is great for hydration and quick energy. Hindmilk is the creamy and fat-rich part of breast milk that provides nourishment, satiety, and contentment.

It’s vital that baby gets a balance of both parts of milk to ensure optimal digestion and assimilation (not to mention a happy baby). Babies who receive too much foremilk suffer with excess gas (thinking farting, lots of belching, hiccups, etc.), hunger and even colic. That’s because the foremilk can digest too quickly, without the fat of hindmilk to slow it down, resulting in malabsorption and intestinal distress, not to mention frequent feeding (and sore breasts!) since the milk isn’t as satiating.

Whew, so, what’s a mama to do? The good thing is most babies will learn to adapt to their mom’s letdown as they grow and their digestive system’s mature. Having said that, I needed some ways to deal with it during those first few months.

Tips to handle overactive letdown

1. Clamp down

I find that “clamping down” on the areola can help slow down the milk flow and allow baby to drink at a more agreeable pace (or even suckle for comfort). How do you do it? Well, remember the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors”? Use the scissors hand pose and squeeze down hard on your areola. This will slow the flow coming out of your milk ducts. Beware that you might develop finger/hand soreness or cramping, so take breaks now and then.

2. Laid back nursing

Sometimes called “Biological Nurturing”, a great way to nurse with an overactive letdown is laying down. Let the baby rest on you so you’re facing belly to belly. You can even let the baby root for the breast herself and latch on. Nursing this way works against gravity, therefore slowing the flow of milk into baby’s mouth. It’s also pretty comfortable! Another option is side-lying position, as sometimes excess milk can dribble out of breast and/or side of baby’s mouth easily this way.

3. Pull baby off at letdown

Many babies struggle the most during the actual milk letdown, which usually takes place 30 seconds to a few minutes into nursing. Most moms can feel their milk preparing to come down their milk ducts. A great way to ease baby’s discomfort with an overactive letdown is take him off the breast and catch the forceful milk in a towel, burp cloth or breast milk bag. Once letdown is complete, re-latch baby and let him nurse. If you want to save the milk from the other breast that’s released during letdown (each drop is so valuable!), check out this product. If you are tandem nursing, you can have toddler drink for the first minute or two during the letdown, and then pop baby back on breast.

4. Use a pacifier (very judiciously)

Wha wha what?! Mama Natural is recommending a pacifier? Well, yes. For moms with an overactive letdown, it can be a wonderful tool. Babies are born with a strong reflux to suck. In some feeding situations, babies get to suckle both breasts for about 30 minutes total per feeding. Whereas with me and my overactive letdown, feeding sessions lasted about five minutes on just one boob before Paloma got all the milk she needed. Not fair for her, really. If your baby is content, no worries. But, when it’s the witching hour and baby wants to suckle for comfort but is overwhelmed by the milk flow, you could try a pacifier. (This is a good one for newborns.) You can also try using a very clean finger for baby to suck on as an alternative.

5. Block feedings

If you’re dealing with oversupply issues too, you may want to offer just one breast per feeding. For mom’s with severe oversupply issues, you can even offer that same breast for the next feeding and then offer the second breast. That way you can be sure baby will get all of the good hind milk, and it will be a more pleasant nursing experience, since the milk letdown won’t be as rapid as the breast empties. This will also help to regulate your overall milk production, since you’re not stimulating both breasts at each feeding. Be sure to work with a Lactation Consultant to decide if Block Feeding is right for you.

6. Get help

There are so many great resources out there if you continue to struggle with feedings. I always recommend a check up with a Lactation Consultant (and have done so myself with both of my kids.) They are worth their weight in GOLD and give you hands-on help with overactive letdown issues or, and even more importantly, diagnose any issues that may be preventing your child from latching and drinking your milk well like a tongue or lip tie. You can search for a local Lactation Consultant here.
Additionally, consider attending a local La Leche or Breastfeeding USA meeting. These organizations are led by nursing mamas or even breastfeeding counselors and are filled with other nursing moms just like you. You bet you’ll find another mama who has dealt with an overactive letdown and can share her experience with you. One of the greatest things about these meetings is that they are FREE! You can find local meetings on their websites.

Know that it gets better…

Bottom line, don’t give up. Breastfeeding does get easier for baby and for mama. As your baby grows, she’ll be able to drink up and enjoy your overactive letdown (it’s true!). In the interim though, try the above-mentioned tips to get you through those uncomfortable first weeks or months as you both are adjusting.

Need breastfeeding help?

Would love to hear from YOU

Have you tried anything that works with reducing milk supply or slowed a fast letdown? Share with us so we can learn from each other!

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  1. Hi Ladies! So glad I saved this post while I was pregnant. I’m 4wks PP and came back to all my saved Mama Natural posts that I thought would come in handy while trying to figure out new mom life! Does anyone have a problem with just one breast having oversupply? My right breast I about 2-3 times the size of my left breast and everytime when I pump I get 4-5oz out of the right and 1-2 out of my left. I feel the oversupply had lead to the cluster feedings so I have been pumping 3-4 times a day to do bottle feedings and build supply, and I will nurse him In between. Never associated him pushing off or fighting my breast with oversupply till now. Sometime he latches perfectly sometimes he struggles and screams with me for minutes! The green poo. . It’s been about 2 diapers a day and then we get yellows poo too. So the green poo is because he’s receiving too much foremilk? I’ll try the technique of shaking/massaging my breast to mix it up. I noticed when I pumped it has been a lot more watery, ill see if I can get a mix to know he is getting enough fat. He’s for sure gaining weight but just eating so much lately. I thought it was just a phase, turns out it’s my oversupply! Thanks for the article!

  2. My little one is a month old, she had a tongue tie that we had clipped a few weeks ago but we haven’t really had any improvements while nursing! At first I thought they didn’t clip enough, or that she maybe had reflux. We have more symptoms related to forceful letdown than reflux though! I’m getting back on the phone with my lactation consultant today!

    Thanks for the informative post!!

    Jessica

  3. wow… finially an answer ,I couldnt figure out what was going on …

  4. When my dd was about 3wks I started freaking out — I’d made it past insane engorgement and sore nipples (thinking I was out of the woods) only to find my little one choking, coughing, gagging, fussy, super gassy, and nursing for only about 5 min at a time. Then I came across this article and a lightbulb went on!!! Following your advise I starting tracking feedings to try and figure out when she was hungry vs. comfort eating and for how long she was nursing per side. I starting feeding in the laid back position, block feeding, and pacifier (after getting over initial guilt) at late evening only when she was really wanting to comfort feed but couldn’t handle the milk/letdown. And WOW!!! So far so good. It’s made a huge difference. We still have our miserable feedings, but things have improved dramatically. I have hope now.

  5. My 8-week old is still having excessive gas issues and still chokes on my milk during the night and first morning feed (when my breasts are fuller). We spend every afternoon/evening trying to help a very fussy baby deal with gas discomfort. I’ve tried all of the above for weeks. (She did have a tongue tie release 4-5 weeks ago and is able to breastfeed very well now.) We have been giving her gas drops pretty religiously also. Any other suggestions? When does this get better?

    • Many babies have dairy allergies that cause gas and spitting up. An elimination diet could tell you if this is causing it.

  6. My four-week old shows these signs, but usually only at one feeding a day (sometimes two) and usually only at night. I’ve tried to unlatch her and spray into a towel, but she still tugs at my nipple and chokes and can’t get past the choking to be able to eat (which is the saddest). I’ve tried reclining, sitting her up, pumping a little before nursing her, nursing from only one side, and nursing twice from the same side (which leaves my other breast feeling terrible even after pumping a bit), but I haven’t noticed an improvement.
    Does it take time to improve?
    Why would this only happen at 1-2 feedings (although I’m incredibly thankful it’s not every feeding)?
    The two hours it takes to calm her down every night after a frustrating and fruitless feeding are making me hate breastfeeding.
    She’ll take a bottle easily, but I’m afraid she’ll only want to bottle feed if we start incorporating a nightly bottle (to avoid the problem nursing session).
    Any advice?

    • I would definitely talk with a lactation consultant asap. You have different amounts of milk at different times. If you go longer in between feeds at night (as most do) you’ll have more milk and a stronger let down. Four weeks is still early so it may relax with time but definitely seek an IBCLC.

    • I have been having this issue for almost 2 weeks and it sucks! I know exactly how you feel I have had a few break downs and saying I was going to quit breastfeeding as every feeding was a fight.. I seen a lactation consultant 3 days ago and have been using a nipple shield since and it is amazing we have great feedings all the time now.. I am so happy definitely worth a try

    • I have an overactive letdown as well. My first child had no problems nursing, never noticed an overactive letdown at this point. My second was actually my second and third (twins) and I definitely didn’t have this with them.. I had a hard time producing enough milk. My fourth baby, I had an obvious case of the overactive letdown and oversupply. Something that worked well for me was using a contact nipple shield. This helped my baby to control the milk flow, and he no longer got irritated at the breast. I haven’t had any problems with tender nipples or engorgement. His gas and green stools have also gone away. Which was super important to me, no one wants their baby to be uncomfortable and crying because of gas. I know at first I felt so bad because I was blaming myself, feeling like it was my fault that he wasn’t feeling well.
      All in all, the shield worked wonders. And I’m thankful I found it. Good luck! Hope this helps.

      • What are the shields? Can you give the full name or pic? I have this problem with my little ones and I’m so tired of giving him gas drops. He’s always in pain from gas!!!!

        • It is called a nipple shield and it goes on your nipple to help with nursing. I know you can find them at target for the medals brand. It is usually with the breast pumps and breast pads.

  7. I have had overactive letdown with all three of my babies, especially the last two. It’s become a fact of life for me. Comfort nursing doesn’t happen much in our house, lol. Five minutes and they’re done!

    It can be tricky the first couple of months, though, until they are old enough to handle the fast flow. I found the best thing was lying back almost horizontally for the first minute of nursing, until the flow slowed. Now that my daughter is 5 months old, I don’t need to take any precautions. She loves the fast flow, and gets irritated as soon as it slows 🙂 For me, it started improving around the 3 month mark. My milk supply regulated and the babies got large enough to handle the flow without choking.

    FYI, it is quite possible to have a fast letdown and not have oversupply. Right now I have just enough milk for my baby, and not much extra, but still have a painful, very fast let down.

  8. I was struggling with this issue while breastfeeding my second child. My lactation consultant suggested that I press a cold towel against my breast right before breastfeeding and it helped a lot!

  9. With my overactive letdown, I really miss my baby’s comfort nursing…

  10. Hi!

    I felt like I had things under control for a few weeks with my 5 week old and now the past few days the letdown is back. I have been using a manual hand pump before her night time feedings and I can get almost 2 oz in about 3 minutes! My question is, how do you know when you’ve pumped just for comfort and for baby to latch without dealing with the letdown and when you are over stimulating? I’m worried I’m getting too pump happy before she eats at night and then causing more supply in the day? How can I tell what’s the right amount to pump?

    • I would only pump for a few minutes each time to just offset the fast letdown.

  11. Can this still happen when ur using nipple shields?? I thought my little man was gaggingbin the shields as i thoughy it was too big?? But all the symptoms described happens at feedings and I use shields because he was born 2 weeks early, hes very small, has trouble latching on anf during out hospital stay i had severaly cracked and sore nipples. I did try lating fown to feed once and we both fid enjoy it better…we trued belly to belly but i found it super awkward. . .

    • I think it can still be a problem with a nipple shield. Sounds a lot like my son when he was born and honestly I think he had an undiagnosed tounge tie. Sore nipples are very normal (they are sensitive body parts being suddenly “worked” all the time after all!!) but mine got very painful during the first few months. I have an overactive let down as well. I recommend seeing a lactation consultant.. Almost every breatfeeding mother I know has at one point.. They can check your latch and check for a tounge or lip tie. If over production or over active let down are the issues then you can take it from there.. Good luck momma and congrats!!

  12. I have a 5 weeks old and we’re figuring out how to manage overactive letdown. It’s so heartbreaking when your baby is obviously hungry but keeps gagging and choking. He gives this pitiful sigh after he stops choking and coughing that is just so sad sounding.

    I’m glad to see the pacifer suggestion. All the natural blogs always say how terrible they are and how you should never use one. Our pediatrician recommended that I use one because sometimes baby nurses and then drifts off to sleep sucking but no longer eating and then suddenly I have a second let down and he wakes up sputtering and gagging which is upsetting for him and myself. I always feel guilty giving him a pacifier like I’m being a lazy mom. I try to use it sparingly and keep in mind that its helping prevent discomfort for him, but it’s been difficult to overcome all the negative feelings I have read about pacifiers.

    I need to return to work part time soon and I’m really worried about giving him a bottle. I don’t want him to prefer that and refuse to nurse. I’m going to try to bring him to work with me at first and hold off on the bottle as long as possible but it will have to happen sooner than I’d like.

  13. Thanks for this article. My baby is 4 weeks old and I definitely has a forceful letdown as he would choke and cry after BF. I started to use a towel to catch the foremilk after he latched as the milk just squirts out. Once that’s done I give him the breast again. Also I’ve reduced the fullness by pumping a bit when my breastss feel overly full. I found that the baby is less gassy now and is happier after feedings!

    • Hi Dee,

      I completely agree with what you are doing! I had the same problem with my son. My milk will squirt all over his face, nose and chin so I searched the internet for a solution. If other moms were having the same problem. I’m glad I’m not alone!! What I do now is pump one minute before feeding and things has worked wonders for us.

  14. Hi! I think I may have this problem but am not sure. I have a three week old. During feeding she is gulping for air and seems to be eating quickly but still nurses for at least 30 minutes. However after I lay her down to sleep she begins choking and gagging. Could this be forceful let down or something else? Thanks!

  15. Hi Genevieve! Thanks so much for the post. I think I may have this problem, but not totally sure because I’m having a rather unique experience. Is it possible to have overactive letdown WITHOUT oversupply? I ask because I’m experiencing what is discussed in your post, but my breasts do not leak or become engorged. I also pump at work and am able to pump about 3 oz. per side in a very short period of time, but nothing after that. So it almost seems like my overall supply is normal, but not paced normally. It just all comes screaming out at once!
    In addition, my daughter experiences the coughing, gagging, etc., but even scarier, she sometimes violently vomits up what seems like multiple ounces after our morning feedings. Could that be an issue with overfeeding? Or maybe something more serious?

  16. Thank you so much for this post!

    My little one is just over 2 weeks old and I’m already noticing so many of the signs you mentioned. When I was pregnant, I was so worried about having enough milk that I was actually really proud of my supply at first. But now, only two weeks into it, I’m realizing that I actually have more of an oversupply.

    My daughter has the hiccups all of the time, squeals and squirms when she’s nursing and has had a few instances of choking during feeding. Her fussiness has definitely increased over the past few days, especially in the evenings, and she seems to always be hungry, even immediately after feeding. Not to mention I’m changing shirts multiple times a day due to leaking and we’re soaking whatever area we choose to nurse in.

    Tonight she had a diaper of green stool, which is what led me to endless internet searching and eventually brought me to this post!

    I’m so glad to know that there are things we can do to hopefully correct this and have a happier nursing experience. We’re going to start trying block feeding today and see how it goes.

    One question though — I would still like to be able to build up a freezer supply of milk. Would you recommend nursing only on one side, then pumping the other to be stored? Would this simply perpetuate my problem by never communicating to my body to produce less? Not sure what to do.

    Thank you so much for all that you share with you! You are such a wonderful resource 🙂

  17. This information has been so helpful for me. I am a first time mom and my son is 3 1/2 weeks old. I was engorged the first week we brought him home and had to pump for a few days. Now I no longer feel overfull but I know I have an overactive let down.. it’s actually almost painful, it is so strong. I try to do laid back nursing, side by side nursing, clamping (which makes him mad) and leaning back and have been consistently block feeding. My son will only eat for 5 mins per feeding.. no matter what position. He is so uncomfortable, so many birps, hiccups, gassy, spitting up, doesn’t sleep very well and so much crying. He is now on reflux medicine but I really feel if he would nurse longer everything would get better. So I will continue to block feed and just hope this gets easier.

  18. I’d love to have that problem. Too much milk?! What’s that like?

    • Absolutely horrible. You’re the reason your baby is choking and hurts from hiccups. You act like it’s amazing but feeding feels like you’re putting your baby’s health at risk.

      Seriously, comments like that just make you seem cruel.

      • Actually I had overactive letdown/ over supply – 8 ounces from one side! My friend had trouble with supply – it took months to finally build up her supply, with baby crying, her crying when she had to break down and supplement…overactive letdown can be miserable with leaks, gassy streaks in the diaper, but I’d still rather have that than struggle to build up supply…

  19. So good to read this post. I’ve tried most of your suggestions…especially loved the explanation of the scissor hold…read to do it on La Leche League although they didn’t explain how to do it. Things seems to be getting better…my daughter is 9 weeks old now and seems to be able to handle more and we’ve incorporated these tips. Knowing others have the same problem is comforting.

  20. Well, this explains a lot. I knew I had forceful let down, they’re borderline painful. I can’t believe I didn’t put two and two together sooner. Fortunately I’ve already invested the Milk Saver product you suggested. I’m grateful for all that you share with the world! Oxo

  21. This post really soothes my Mama heart. When I had my first two girls, I was absolutely in pain all the time from engorgement. The lactation consultants weren’t a lot of help when it came to overactive milk supply. I had a couple different consultants tell me I was bragging and that I should feel lucky that I had enough milk to feed my daughters! It hurt my feelings and wasn’t helpful at all.

    I love the comments section on both the blog and the Facebook post. Such healing words for this Mama! I’m pregnant with our third baby (too soon to know gender) and I want to be more successful with breastfeeding this time around. I feel ready and more prepared and supported. Thank you, Ladies! And thanks to you, Genevieve for posting this. 🙂

  22. I think I have an overabundant milk supply and for surely know that I have an overactive let-down. My baby is 10 weeks and has always had a hard time handling the forceful let-down.

    I have started pumping after my morning feeds to have a good stock but I have been noticing she has been having this explosive diapers, very gassy at night, and she has always spit up and always gets hiccups and takes only one side. I am starting to think shes getting more foremilk than hindmilk.

    Anyway, we have been wanting my husband to give her a bottle in the evening. She doesn’t like the times we have attempted it so hopefully she’ll get a hang of it. But I would like to pump so I can have a supply in case of me being away at a dental appointment or on a date night. When is the best time to pump? Is it in the evenings after she goes down for good? Shes been sleeping well and I wake up engorged! Or in the mornings after her feed when I have a lot f milk?

    • I have read several things that say you produce the most milk between 1-5am… but if your baby is sleeping through the night, who wants to wake up in the middle of the night just to pump?! 🙂 I always pump right before i go to bed (to make sure I’m good and empty) and then I also pump about an hour after morning feedings and seem to get a lot at that time.

  23. Any preferences on a good breast pump for us moms with forceful let down and oversupply? ? Would love to hear !

  24. Wondering if any of your babies have had green stools as a result of too much foremilk? We’ve been working for a month to figure out the cause and my LLL leader and lactation consultant believe it’s the foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. I’ve been feeding off one side, which helps some, but most stools still have a green hue. Any others experience this?

    • I have been dealing with green stools + blood in stool for over 6 weeks now. I have eliminated all allergens from my diet and yet the green stool continues(It helped a ton with clearing up the blood though). I know I have oversupply so my only thought is foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Starting today to work on correcting it. Hope you find the issue with your baby’s green stool!

    • Yes. Too much foremilk can cause green and mucous like stool. My poor 4 day old son and I are suffering from oversupply. I read some advice to hand express both sides for 20-30 seconds (just enough seconds to not trigger any kind of letdown signal) before feedings. I can get at least half an ounce out on each breast this way and it slightly relieves some pain.

      • Green stools are said to be because of Candida overgrowth. You may want to Google it.

  25. Yesterday I was going through my American baby magazine and saw this ad for these things called Milkies. I personally think that it is a fabulous idea. It fits into your nursing bra and collects all of the leaked out milk throughout the day. You literally have to never miss a drop.

  26. I tried the block feeding, but no improvement. So I contacted a lactation specialist who suggested I shake my breast before feeding and go back to swapping breasts for each feeding (one breast per feeding). She said it would make the hind milk release and mix in with the fore milk. It almost sounded like a joke or maybe a placebo effect. But whatever it was, it worked! I also did the laying down side feeding position, but baby liked it so much he started refusing to eat unless in that position. But that too passed in time. My advice to any breast feeding Mama is to stick with it as long as you can and get help if you need it.

  27. My #2 and #3 suffered through my oversupply. With #2 I never really figured it out and with #3 it has taken me a long long time (over a year) to sort it out. Block feeding worked for me up to a certain point. If i did one side too long it would just overfill even more! Having the let down spray into a burp cloth is def. a good idea. Also for me — the more sugar I eat the more milk I make. It took me a while to see the pattern, but if I overdo it even just a couple days I’m overfull and leaking again. I really focus on eating lots and lots of healthy fats and meats and limiting sugar and I do much better. I can even ditch the milk pads if I’m being really disciplined. Btw my baby #3 is 13 months…

  28. I wish I had this advice 9 months ago. My son is now 9.5 months and he was always gagging in the beginning. Now he is happy with the fast feeds because he can get a bunch quick and go back to playing or fall back asleep. I can’t wait to tell my friends about this article and I hope to remember this when I get pregnant again. Thank you sweety!

    • Aw, my pleasure! Glad you guys got through it and he’s loving the flow now 🙂

  29. I have had this problem with all my babies. I have 4. Overproduction leads to mastitis if not carefully controlled. Also I have always had to feed from one side at a time. My poor new born always have a rough month or 2 when we are adjusting. It does get way way easier. And I’ve always used a pacifier as feedings only last 5 to 10 mins because they are empty so fast.
    I’m glad to know I’m not alone! I’ve gotten some terrible TERRIBLE advice from lactation consultants who had no idea about overproduction. Each time I got mastitis when I followed it.
    My best advice is this. Pump the extra in the beginning, only enough to not be over filled. Second only nurse one side at a time. Third know THIS it will get easier and you can reduce your supply slowly after 2 to 4 months dont freak out if you have to pump and just now it does get WAY easier.

  30. Hi there Genevieve and all mamas!
    Id like to just share a bit about my experience about this topic and the new research I’ve found.
    I’m a new mom of a 3.5mo old boy and i also struggled a lot with fast let down and engoregment.
    So I read books and talked to lactation consultants as often as I could. Every source told me about foremillk and hindmilk as you outlined in your post, Genevieve. Things weren’t improving and my baby was suffering and so I worried and stressed.
    Then I decided to see a lactation physician and to my surprise she told me that the theory behind fore and hindmilk has been misunderstood.
    Here is a quote from an article from Breastfeeding USA :

    There are not “two kinds of milk.” Despite this common belief, there is no “magic moment” when foremilk becomes hindmilk. As the baby breastfeeds, the increase in fat content is gradual, with the milk becoming fattier and fattier over time as the breast drains more fully.

    The whole article is very informative and can be read in full here:
    https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/worries-about-foremilk-and-hindmilk

    Lastly, the advice that worked for me from the lactation physician was to first : not worry about what kind of milk my baby was getting and two: allow my baby to drink as much at one breast as he pleased and then I’d offer the other and back and forth until he seemed content. Rather than block feeding as I tried earlier which led me to have one empty and one full breast after each of baby’s meals.

    Thanks for letting me share ! And thank you for this amazing blog!

    • Thank you so much for posting that link about fore milk and hind milk!

  31. I could have used his post with my first baby so much great advice. We struggled so much for the first few months, which I did not expect after working as a labor and delivery nurse for the previous 5 years. Once she grew into my let down it was much better. I relied daily on the Kelly Mom nursing website. Thankfully my second (over 2npounds bigger) was able to nurse without.issues right from the start. What a relief!

  32. Thank you for this post! I experienced too much milk supply and overactive let down with my first baby, who is now 6 months old. It took us about 5 months to truly get the “hang” of feeding, and for me not to be engorged most of the time. In fact, we had to take a lot of “nursing breaks” (per my lactation consultants advice) for my little girl to get a “slower flow” through bottle nipples to help her digestive system. Somehow it felt like my body didn’t know how to breast feed properly by having this dysfunction – It was tough to find support out there for this issue, and I’m so comforted to know other mama’s have struggled and some tips for what worked for them! I know there are more babies in my future and I can say the biggest fear for me is now breast-feeding as I’ve never experienced anything so uncomfortable, alienating and frustrating as the excessive supply and letdown. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting – I’ll treasure this post in the future, I’m sure!

    Some tips that worked for me:

    1) Avoiding Quinoa, Oats and Bone Broths – always boosted my milk supply by a TON
    2) Sage Tea – a life savor when engorged and relief within hours
    3) Back Lying Nursing – amazing for both me and the little one
    4) My LC sending me emails every night affirming that it will get better! Such true and wise advice!

    • Holy crap I didn’t know quinoa was a galactogogue! I eat it every day!

  33. Yay! You responses to my Instagram comment on having this issue back in November when I was 3 weeks in and helped me push through, now I’m at 3 months! Hang in there mamas!
    Any advice on pumping to get a stash without aggravating the issue?

    • Hi I just wanted to say I had this same problem with my now three month old, and my advice to anyone who is doing this: please be careful with pumping off the foremilk. I did this and it just increased my supply even more. I then tried block feeding on one side for six hours then switching, to reduce the supply, which sort of worked but in the meantime my boy had more foremilk to deal with. It was awful. He started developing an oral aversion and became afraid of my breasts. Finally I learned I could pump both breasts dry as soon as I woke up and then feed on one side for two feedings then switch. I wouldn’t be too full until the next morning when I’d pump again. Slowly my supply has diminished this way. It’s really important to not increase your supply if your baby is at all bothered by the letdown, because more milk means a heavier letdown. Which can turn into feeding aversion. For a while there, my baby would only feed in his sleep and would starve himself all day, also afraid of the bottle. It was the letdown in combination with colic symptoms that scared him. Be careful! Not to be alarmist, but it has been truly horrible to watch your baby obviously hungry but screaming bloody murder at the sight of your breasts. It’s really hard not to feel helpless. It’s gotten so I spend the whole day now trying to coax him to feed , can’t leave the house because he needs it to be just so to feed, can’t get anything done. Hope you don’t mind my advice!

      Oh also I wasn’t able to build a freezer stash while pumping the foremilk obviously because who wants to give her baby foremilk, but once I switched to once a day, the milk was again nice and white and creamy! I should note I also fed several times a night.

      One more thing: I just looked up galactogogues and realized my entire diet is galactogogues (salmon, avocados, almonds, quinoa, yams, greens, carrots). Our baby has all these food sensitivities and I have others (wheat, corn, soy, dairy, citrus, nightshades, dried fruits , beans), so I’m not really sure what I can eat! Also ate placenta pills and did crazy amounts of skin to skin this time. So frustrating!

      One hard part is people thing oversupply is a blessing and hate to hear anyone complain about it. They have no idea how hard and debilitating it can be. My baby isn’t gaining weight like he should because it made him terrified of nursing.

      Thank you so much for this post.

      • I thought something is wrong with my baby. He is so scared of my breast and will not drink from a bottle. Also, not gaining weight either. Thanks for the advise.

  34. I have the same issue. My daughter is 10 weeks. I tried almost all the tricks. I wish my baby took a pacifier, she just refuses it (along with bottle with breastmilk). On top of that she has acid reflux….it’s rough. It seems like feeding on one side helps her. I pump the other side. Is that what other mamas do? Because it does stimulate the production, so I’m not sure if what I’m doing is right.

    • I posted this elsewhere but try pumping both breasts dry in the morning, through several letdowns. Then feed on one side for two feedings, or four hours, then switch to the other side for same amount of time. Repeat the next morning if your breast are super full again until you don’t need to anymore. That was the only thing that worked for me.

      Also my baby also has reflux. I gave up a lot of offending foods which helped some. He also wouldn’t take a bottle or paci until very recently (is three months old). My husband got him to take both after lots of work. I had to be out of the room. I didn’t figure out the pumping once a day tagging until after my baby developed a. Oral aversion, when he also wouldn’t take bottle or breast. Very stressful. I’d recommend doing everything you can to combat supply and reflux! Avoiding dairy helps a lot of people. I had to also avoid corn , citrus, tomatoes and nightshades,beans, wheat, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol for now. Hoping after his aversion lets up we can reintroduce.

      I tried gripe water and even zantac but he just vomits them right up.

  35. my little one gets donor milk..it is such a blessing to have another mother share such a special gift! I encourage all mamas with over supply to do it at least once!

  36. I just posted a question about this exact issue on your Facebook page. Thank you for this! My 3-week-old is struggling with a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance and she’s really fussy and gassy, especially in the middle of the night. She’s ok once she’s passed the gas, but getting her to do that is a challenge. Putting pressure on her stomach seems to help, so I let her lay on my chest skin to skin after giving her some gripe water. I’ve tried pumping some of the foremilk so she gets more hindmilk as well. We’re struggling and a little frustrated, but I’m so happy to have been able to read so many other moms’ experiences. We’ll keep going and praying it gets better soon.

    • Use the Windi catheter; it works wonders.

  37. Our experiences are uncanny! Our babies have the same birth day and we had the same EDD 😀 Even the birthing was similar- I was only at the hospital 20 min when miss Piper Eowyn was born. My midwife didn’t make it! My Ob, who lives much closer, got there see her first meal and hand me a bowl to get my placenta. Funny enough, I have a crazy letdown and over supply. Rather than fight it and try to reduce, I donate. I have given over 500oz so far! No too shabby for nine weeks. I need to get an ounce count on the freezer load I have now 😀

  38. Thanks again, Genevieve, for a great post. I’m bookmarking this for my doula clients. I think this is something that some mamas have no clue what to do with. It IS by trial and error that we figure some of this out. I certainly had uber milk production, and with my fourth baby was able to donate to his cousin, which was helpful. Keep up the good work, MamaNatural!

    • That makes me so happy! Thanks for sharing, Sarah 🙂 That’s so great too that you were able to help out your cousin!

  39. Great advise Genevieve! Thank you! I had over supply issues with my first child and and having the exact same experience with baby #2 who is only 3 weeks old. Apart from the constant choking and coughing, he even has it coming out of his nose! Looking foward to trying these suggestions. Love your channel and blog x

    • Oh yes! Through the nose… gotta love it 😉 Thanks for your kind words. XO

  40. This post makes me want to cry. Because I didn’t know with my first!!! I just didn’t know and the poor guy was so uncomfortable and gassy and I thought I was doing good things by doing what everyone said to do: let them eat on both sides, don’t give a binky, etc. etc. The milk literally would squirt him in the eye and he ate every hour on the hour. That means all I did literally was feed and change diaper…repeat over and over while he was just miserable. I wish I would have known about this. But I am grateful for these ideas because after I switched to just nursing on one side (after like 5 months) then it went so much smoother- AH!!! THANK YOU for bringing this up!!!! Hopefully other women who don’t know (like me) will have something to remember if they see any of these problems.

    • Aw, so glad this helped you Aubrey! I went through some of the same things with Griffin. It’s all such a learning process so be gentle with yourself 🙂

      • Oh also I wasn’t able to build a freezer stash while pumping the foremilk obviously because who wants to give her baby foremilk, but once I switched to once a day, the milk was again nice and white and creamy! I should note I also fed several times a night.

        One more thing: I just looked up galactogogues and realized my entire diet is galactogogues (salmon, avocados, almonds, quinoa, yams, greens, carrots). Our baby has all these food sensitivities and I have others (wheat, corn, soy, dairy, citrus, nightshades, dried fruits , beans), so I’m not really sure what I can eat! Also ate placenta pills and did crazy amounts of skin to skin this time. So frustrating!

        One hard part is people thing oversupply is a blessing and hate to hear anyone complain about it. They have no idea how hard and debilitating it can be. My baby isn’t gaining weight like he should because it made him terrified of nursing.

        Thank you so much for this post.

        • Oops meant to post this as a general reply!

  41. Me… Me!!!!! I’m in the over active letdown club too! 6 kiddles. Same issue with ALL. I remedied with a couple of the suggestions already listed. My prefolds were my “breast friend” 😉

    Something else that I suffered with pretty intensly that seems to be tied to the issue of over supply and over active letdown was Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. I had NO idea what it was or why it was happening to me until my 4th baby. All the professionals that I saw, both conventional and naturopathic, we’re puzzled. Some blamed ppd… Which was not the case and it is most often mistaken for that.

    I started actively seeking others having the experiences that I was having because I knew it was not my imagination and I was really suffering during letdown. Figuring out what was going on was a life saver since I discovered there were some possible remedies. I did have moderate success in lessening the effects via using herbs (rhodiola = results) and a few other tricks.

    I just felt it worth mentioning here considering so many mamas suffer in silence, often deciding to give up on nursing prematurely. Support is key and knowing others are out there experiencing this too does wonders in the, “am I effing crazy?” department. The word needs to spread so that community and professional support will continue to pop up and a better understanding of this phenomenon will come about.

    Hugs mamas!

  42. Great to see some attention brought to this subject. I had this problem with my first and am currently dealing with the same thing with my 5 month old son. I struggled to find resources and answers the first time around as there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about heavy let down and over production. I finally found some support through the local la leche league:) happy to know Paloma is eating well!

    • That’s why I wanted to write this post! There’s a lot of info out there on increasing milk supply but not enough on if you have too much.

  43. I really have to thank you. I just gave birth to my second child and I have been struggling so hard with nursing. Not only has she been displaying all of the above signs (coughing, gasping, excessive farting, and the worst-only nursing for about 5mins at a time!) but my breasts are so unbearably sore! I thought they were sore because she only nursed for a few minutes at a time and I figured she was only nursing for a few minutes at a time because of something I was doing wrong. (I thought I wasn’t positioning her correctly or wasn’t allowing a proper latch) but I never stopped to think that they were so sore because I was producing too much!
    Thanks again for the post!

    • Aw, my pleasure! Yes, sounds like you’ve got oversupply. IT WILL GET BETTER! Paloma is now able even take my second breast at a few feedings. YAY! It’s wild to think that baby is getting enough milk with a 5 minute feeding but it can be true. The key is to keep bringing them back to that same breast so that they get the hindmilk.

  44. I had this and it was so hard to watch my little one struggle with feedings by choking on all the milk. Side feeding was great for us, especially for naps and nighttime. I got my supply under control by pumping both sides till empty (since she was never able to). Then as we continued it balanced out due to supply and demand. I know there is more info out there on using a pump to help regulate supply. 2+ years and we are still going strong.

  45. This is a great post! I have an overactive let down as well and it is extreamly frustrating, especially while trying to feed baby while we’re out. I’m going to try some of these tips and hopfully it helps. I hate seeing my little guy choke while trying to eat and so gassy because of it. Not to mention that he is constantly eatting atleast every hour still at 2.5 months.

  46. Thank you! My son had some rough first months with gassiness, frequent wakings etc. I could NOT figure out what was going on. Finally in retrospect I see that it was an oversupply and an over active letdown issue. Ugh. I wish I had known then so I could help the poor guy out a bit more. We figured it out though. The pacifier sparingly and block feeding helped a lot. Thanks mamanatural for posting about this!

    • My pleasure! Nursing is such a learning process, isn’t it?

  47. I found the best things that helped with my third was unlatching him when I’d feel my letdown begin and catch it in a burp rag, but baby gets upset to be unlatched. Also keeping a single manual pump next to my nursing chair so I could pump off an ounce or so before I nursed him. Pump definitely through letdown but not enough to stimulate more milk supply… And then they outgrow it! Or grow into it, I should say! So hang in there!

  48. One issue I had was that while nursing on one side, the other side would be squirting out milk and would soak my bra, shirt, mattress etc. I found this product which allows for passive milk collection. http://www.amazon.com/Milkies-Milk-Saver-Breast-Collector-Storage/dp/B001SMBRWO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391019260&sr=8-1&keywords=milkies
    While nursing on one side, this little cup collects what comes out on the other side to be frozen, donated, etc. That way, when I felt super full but baby wasn’t ready for a feeding, rather than pumping (which tells your breasts to make more milk), the dripping milk can be collected neatly and used later.

  49. I experienced this with my first son. Side lying nursing helped, as did laid back nursing. Sometimes I’d just have to unlatch and let it spray into a towel and then let him get back on. As he got older, things got a lot better.

    • Oh, and I also fed on one side each time. It really helped to regulate things too. 🙂

      • Good point on letting it spray in a towel!

  50. I experienced this with my fourth! I had just gotten her to the point where she could feed from both sides when we realized I had an overactive letdown! So I went back to just one side and baby was much much happier! After a few months my milk regulated and I can now feed her on both sides again. I was so happy I discovered what was wrong because we had some pretty awful nights for a while!

  51. Thank you for this post Genevieve! I have been struggling with over production with my 10 week old. Especially in the mornings. Poor girl gags and spits up constantly. I didn’t have so much with my first daughter, although I did pump a bit with her. I just haven’t found the time to do it now with two and I’m afraid if I start I’ll produce even more! Yikes. Would love to donate though.

    Question for you related to food posts. What do you like to use coconut milk in besides smoothies and drinks? Would love to start in incorporating it into our diet more 😉

    • Hi Jessica!

      I put in tea a lot… my liver love drink… I sometimes make chia pudding and use this as my “milk.”

      • finally I find some good information….. I have spent hours and hours researching and talking to lactation consultants… my 3 1/2 month old son did a 3 week fussy breast and bottle aversion it was awful we are on our 4th good day and hoping things are better…

        I still have a very forceful letdown so sleepy eating works well for us but awake feeds are the issue. poor guy too much milk coming at him

        I was reading on all the foods to avoid I eat avocados daily and papaya!!! wish I had read this sooner. it’s been so hard to find information. and when you vent to some one everyone says I wish I had that problem but it’s awful to have too much milk.

        any advice on how much to pump while at work to keep your supply low? I work 3 times a week he is eating every 3 hours so I was trying to imitate that at work is this a good idea? should I pump until I get 4-5 oz and then stop even if I’m still full?
        ideas?

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